July 23, 2017

Personal Fireworks Should Be Banned

In a blog on July 5th,  I asked whether personal fireworks should be banned, noting the huge array of negative impacts.

There was a lot support for doing so, and some of the emails and calls I received were disturbing and emotional.

Two combat veterans called, describing their terror from the concussive sounds in the night.  They told me they were not alone.

I heard from a woman who lost her dog, who had been shaking from fear and hiding in a closet beforehand.

I got an emotional call from a woman whose mother was dying of Alzheimers and was in terror of the explosions, unable to understand their cause.

And I am tired of reading stories of maimed children, destroyed homes, and even a father killed in front of his kids--all due to fireworks.

On July 5th, I was walking my dog at Seattle's Magnuson Park when some teenagers started shooting off rockets in the kite hill parking lot, almost hitting a mother and her kids.

Folks, it is time to end this madness, to make personal fireworks illegal, to seriously enforce this ban, and to leave the pyrotechnics to community displays run by professionals.

The historical perspective

John Adams, in a letter to his wife Abigail, suggested that independence should bring great celebrations "solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other..."

And he was not disappointed.  Americans celebrated their independence with large bonfires, cannonade, and volleys from a variety of firearms, with nearly all the action limited to communal celebrations.

The 19th century brought expansion of the celebrations, including increased use of individual fireworks and firearm use.  As a result, the there was a huge expansion of death, injury, and damage, so much so that the American Medical Association and  insurance companies, among others, pushed for restriction of personal displays and more stress on public fireworks and patriotic gatherings. Major restrictions on personal fireworks, fires, and small arms fire was put in place during the early 20th century, and the reductions in deaths and injuries were stunning (see below).   From 466 killed in 1903 to 20 dead in 1912.   

In the 1930s, the Depression resulted in a reduction of public displays and the use of personal fireworks increased.   By the 1950s and early 1960s, increased firework use and a much larger population resulted in a rapid increase in injuries and fires.  The result was a movement towards "safe and sane" fireworks, with smaller explosive charges and restrictions by a number of states.

Recently, there has been a surge in fireworks use, with several states dropping restrictions and a massive increase in imports from China.    Furthermore, "improvements" resulted in louder explosions.     An issue has been the loss of control of fireworks sales in several states and the availability of less "sane" explosives due to unrestricted sales occurring at Native American "boom cities."


I put it to you--is it patriotic to explode loud personal fireworks, when they terrorize or discomfort our combat veterans...the individuals to whom we owe so much?  I don't think so.

Is it patriotic to purchase a product from a foreign nation (China) that pollutes our air, injures at least 10,000 of our citizens a year, burns down thousand of homes or buildings, and sets aflame vast areas of our nation?   In another time, this might be considered an act of war.  In fact, the Japanese tried to do this during WWII using balloon bombs.

Let's be honest, most folks are not shooting off fireworks due to patriotic fervor but rather thrill seeking and entertainment.

Injuries and deaths

Official government statistics indicate that about 10,000 citizens end up at the emergency rooms from fireworks-related injuries, and this is surely undercounting the numbers affected.  Typically, there are around a dozen deaths and hundreds of terrible injuries, including loss of eyesight and blown off fingers or hands. Thousands are burned.  The overwhelming majority of injuries are to young people (see figure below), with 40% of the injuries affecting children of 14 and under.
Non-enforcement and disrespect for the Law

Currently, personal fireworks are banned in a number of Washington State cities, such as Seattle and Bellevue.  But police are not enforcing the ban and if they do catch someone, they just confiscate the fireworks.   Here is a quote (from an article in the Stranger):

Enforcement of firework use is difficult. In order for the Seattle Police Department to give out a citation, they pretty much have to witness someone “holding a match to a firework,” says SPD Detective Patrick Michaud.
“So it becomes extremely difficult for us to get out there and respond in time,” Michaud said, adding that SPD might be able to catch someone lighting up “if we’re lucky.”

Just amazing.

Can you imagine any criminal activity that is EASIER to locate than setting off fireworks?  Big booms, bright lights, screaming sounds and rocket bursts in the air?   How many bank robbers would be caught if they blared loud sounds and bright lights when they were making their heists?   The police are deliberately not enforcing the law and thousand of folks are breaking the law and no one seems to care....this is not a good civics lesson.  It teaches disrespect for the rule of law and cynicism about law enforcement.

I am not suggesting that the police send an army out there and arrest hundreds of people.  But making a clear statement that the law would be enforced, followed by a few hundred citations with a substantial financial penalty would sober folks up rapidly.


What day has more wildfires initiated than any other?    You guessed it...July 4th (see figure below).

According to government statistics, thousands of fires are caused by fireworks each year, involving hundreds of thousands of acres.  Probably not what John Adams was hoping for.

Air pollution

Fireworks seriously pollute the air, endangering folks with lung and heart issues.  In some areas of our state, air quality declines to Beijing levels on the evening of the 4th and July 5th.  Here is a plot of the amount of small particles (the kind that go deep into your lungs) for Tacoma over the past month.  HUGE July 4/5 spike.   Very unhealthy.  Fireworks can and have triggered serious asthma attacks.

I had an interesting conversation with a friend at the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.   He felt that personal fireworks were much more of a problem for surface air quality.  First, there is more personal fireworks (in terms of amount of material exploded) and personal fireworks are set off at/near the ground, in contrast to the big public displays that send their projectiles high into the air.  And the degradation starts before the official fireworks. Thus, personal fireworks are the main origin of air degradation.  And particles are not the only issue--many fireworks are laced with heavy metals and dangerous chemical (e.g.,  perchlorate).

Terrifying our pets and animal friends

What day of the year do you think the greatest number of pets run away and are lost?  July 4th.  I have had dogs and cats and when the explosions start, their terror and fear are obvious.

So what should be done?

It is time to deal with personal fireworks.   And in my mind, a statewide ban is the best approach. 

 One starts with forbidding sales and use on all non-tribal lands.  And then we ask our native american friends to stop sales on all tribal lands.  Protecting the environment and the land is deeply embedded in native american culture and values.  Surely selling devices that burn our forests and rangelands, pollutes our air, and degrades our waterways (with all the plastics and fireworks-related chemicals) is something they would want to stop.   If not, we could express our displeasure by avoiding their casinos.

Some states have been highly creative in dealing with fireworks.  For example, Hawaii passed a law requiring a license and was only available to adults.   Fireworks use collapsed.

Perhaps one of our political leaders would be willing to take this on.   If not, a community-based group could be formed to lobby the legislature or even or push for an initiative.  There are a lot of environmentally concerned folks in our area....perhaps they will consider giving this issue some priority.

Addendum:  Personal Freedom

Several folks opposed a fireworks ban based on the idea of personal freedom.   But there is a difference of a vice that harms only you and one that hurts others.  Fireworks hurt others.  The pollution hurts others.  The fires it causes burns others homes down.  The noise hurts the weak and traumatized.  Etc.   Freedom is important, but one does not have the freedom to harm others.  Smoking is legal, but you can not smoke in a public place where others will be harmed.

And should minors have the "freedom" to purchase and use fireworks?   We deny a 12-year old the freedom to drive a car...that is ok.  Because minors don't have the judgement yet for dealing with the responsibilities and consequences of their actions.   But it is fine for them to use fireworks that can destroy theirs or others lives?


  1. I found myself in agreement with this until I got to the short paragraph regarding your "strategy" towards banning sales on reservations. Though it's difficult to find good statistics, it's clear that firework sales are still an important part of some tribal economies. The suggestion that we boycott casinos (another important or even critical income source) if tribes won't do away with another income source is an unhelpful and entitled perspective. Instead of making the insulting or at least glaringly insensitive request that "...our Native American friends..." do the "right" thing and ban sales of fireworks OR ELSE, why not suggest a more constructive way of providing new tribal economic opportunities to replace lost ones?

    1. +1 The economics make this strategy dead in the water.

  2. I totally agree with what you're saying! Fireworks have been such a huge problem here where I live that they've Been banned since 2003. The only way to see them legally is to shoot outside the city (in a remote area) or go to the public display by professionals.

  3. I'm glad to say your thoughts are in the minority. Your circle of friends are all in the same mindset so of course your thoughts are reinforced by those around you.

    I've enjoyed fireworks since I was 10 years old, my family enjoys them, my son and his friends. Actually I only know one person that does not enjoy them out of everyone I know. That person likes fireworks but has problems with too much smoke and her asthma...

    And you may want to research the state of Georgia who last year allowed fireworks to be sold and displayed 365 days of the year. And you may remember that there is a little city in that state called Atlanta? Those residents are now able to enjoy fireworks year around... For Birthdays, Weddings, FootAball games, etc.

    So while you want to add more restrictions (some may call that the nanny state) others want more freedoms. Is not the back bone of the country is freedoms?

    An yes, I too live in the state of Washington.

  4. Motorcycles kill more people and illegally modified mufflers disturb people every day, not just on the 4th.

  5. Let's make it illegal to transport fireworks on any highway in the state with the exception for licensed professional displays. That would stop the tribes from getting inventory as well as buyers from taking the personal fireworks home.

    1. This was tried on the local level by Auburn WA, near the Muckleshoot tribe and the tribe sued against it and won. So unless there is a Federal level law, this strategy won't go anywhere.

  6. Totally agree. The use of personal fireworks is a selfish activity where the user has no regard for the well-being of others. The harm caused outweighs any temporary thrills.

  7. Very well written article.
    Totally support full ban of fireworks.

    Even last night, some people were still setting off fireworks after midnight...

  8. The only way to eliminate personal fireworks is to end the sale of fireworks statewide, including on Native American lands. It's also easy to enforce a retail sale ban given it requires a location, a tent or a building and signs, which are set up days in advance. The police can handle that. It's already illegal to send explosives via the mail or package express services.

    Anything less than a statewide sales ban would be a colossal waste of time. Cities already have use bans that are ignored. Sure, you can make an example of a few people, but it won't deter it. Lawlessness with personal fireworks is has a long tradition on the 4th (also New Years).

    I believe there are enough personal safety issues to allow a state-wide prohibition of sale law to withstand challenges.

    Lacking a state-wide + reservation sales ban, we just have to duck and cover. Personally, I think we're stuck with it. Fortunately, it's only a few days each year.

  9. Andrew - it's not the responsibility of non-Indians to provide Indians with anything. It's their responsibility, as adults, to find ways to provide for themselves and to do so WITHOUT damaging the health and well-being of others. This Fact Of Life goes for everyone - Indian or not.

    As to the proposal to ban personal fireworks, I couldn't agree more. However in a society wherein an entire segment has been brought up to believe that "it's all about me", its very hard to get a sensible message through their heads.

  10. I'm a veteran - combat type, PTSD and all that. Do you think vets have such a loose grip on reality that we can't handle fireworks? Well, your very gross generalizations trigger me.

    How dare you try to restrict other peoples' freedoms (including the constitution ones you don't like, like number one and number two, I suspect) because you think other peoples' behavior is yours to control. So what will be the end point of your efforts? No one ever dies again? No fires? Or you sit in a cocoon, safe and well, safe? And very bored?

    I went to war, took responsibility for you and yours, and fought, here and over seas, for my right to whatever I wish to do out of liberty, including paying for my errors, and PLAYING with fireworks, and you claim you speak for veterans. And you want to simplify the world. Shove off.

    No, you don't speak for me, or my friends, or even a majority. I suspect you speak for your timid friends, because they are afraid to tell you to sit down.

  11. While I agree that fireworks are dangerous and annoying (even terrifying) to some folks and pets, I don't think that government should be in the business of banning dangerous, annoying, or terrifying things.

    Mountain climbing is dangerous. Smoking cigarettes is dangerous. Climbing ladders is dangerous. Shooting off fireworks is also dangerous, and people should have the freedom to make their own choices about these activities.

    If we banned annoying things, we would have to take down half of YouTube, all of Reddit, and execute Justin Beiber.

    As far as the terrifying people and animals, we shouldn't make laws to specifically cater to the mental state of a few folks and pets, rather pet owner and people should find their own solutions. Living is a free society means you are free to figure these things out for ourselves.

  12. If we must ban everything that is dangerous, we should start with cars and swimming pools. Then we can move on to dog ownership and fatty foods.

  13. I love fireworks on the fourth. We usually go to the designated area on the reservation to shoot them all off, so we are not breaking any local laws.

    Stupid people do stupid things. I get it. But trying to ban the use on tribal reservations is going too far.

  14. More than two weeks after the 4th, some are still getting killed from the things:

  15. I totally agree, Cliff.

    While you're at it, could you have a short post about how VERY DRY it is in central/eastern Washington? I took a look at the July totals for precip at Spokane (3 sites), Lewiston, Wenatchee, Pullman/Moscow, Omak, Moses Lake, Ephrata, and Deer Park, and none have had over 0.02" this month. All but 3 sites have had 0.0 or a trace! Spokane a trace, and average up to now is 0.51" there!

  16. Love your blog Cliff and have followed it for years, but I beg to disagree on this one.

    While the logical thought path of removing those items from society which are linked to harm seems sound, we tread an a bigger issue of individual rights. On the surface this might seem simple. Take away things that can harm someone and everyone will be safe and happy, right? Probably not. The most notable example that comes to mind is prohibition. Just one more example of societal rulers trying to do what's best for the people without realizing that people want it regardless of the danger.

    Why do we still have access to cigarettes? Second hand smoke kills! Why have cars - they pollute the air and run over squirrels! Let's take them all away! And bicycles! They hurt squirrels too! How about trees? They fall on people! We must protect everyone from everything - especially themselves!?

    Come on people. How far is too far? When a few gets offended, the majority has to give up their rights? Seems this trend of late is getting way out of hand.

    I am not arguing the presented facts that fireworks hurt people. I am not disputing that they terrorizes animals and people with afflictions. I sympathize with them. I don't light fireworks in my neighborhood because I respect my neighbors and I won't be the only one lighting them. I fly my flag, barbecue my hot dogs, and socialize all day. Then at night I go to a friend's house who's entire neighborhood lights up like a war zone. I chose to respect others and go where it was more appropriate. I have to ask, is taking away everyone's rights really the best answer? Maybe better education to the negative impacts? Firework safe zones? Quieter fireworks? Do they need to sound like a cannon to look pretty in the sky? Maybe a limitation to the amount of black powder per device? Maybe invite folks to a safe place in an area where you can't use fireworks (like Seattle or Everett) for a public celebration that is much lower-key?

    Successful social engineering is a little more tricky then knee-jerk banning whatever for whatever reason. Seattle might get away with it because of the demographics - bans like this probably work better there. But it doesn't mean it should be everywhere for everyone. The correct approach is education, awareness, and time to shift people's mindset. Seems to me a lot smarter - and more realistic way of getting where we hope to get. Only time will tell if society wants to go there.

    Why did this rattle me so? Jon's comment said something about people who are "it's all about me" lighting off the fireworks and being sensible. There are two sides to that. Those wanting the rights, and those who don't agree. What makes sense to one person won't make sense to someone else unless they try.

    When you don't try to see and understand things through the eyes of others, we are incapable of looking for middle ground and successful mitigation is no longer attainable. Strife is guaranteed. Fire and brimstone. Pineapple on pizza. Zombies will prevail. We're all doomed.

  17. I wonder if fireworks would be considered a relevant topic on a meteorology blog run by a fireworks-loving meteorologist.

  18. I was caregiver to an elder friend of mine for several years. He was a Normandy Beach veteran of WW2. He was still deeply affected by PTSD, after over 60 years. This made almost all of his life a living nightmare. The time around 4th of July, with people blowing off firecrackers, rockets, and homemade bombs, guns, etc., was devastating for my friend. This is something that plays out across our country every year. Thank you for raising this issue.

  19. I couldn't agree more, Cliff, and felt the need to say thank you for your post.

    I notice many folks try to rationalize fireworks as they do many other things as "personal freedoms" that they should be allowed to express, as if the freedom to accidentally start a wildfire or fill their neighbor's lungs with pollution is a constitutional right. What they don't seem to realize is that we live in a community, one in which our actions, however slight, have an impact on one another. Their own personal firework use may be small. They may be careful. They may get lucky and not have an accident with defective fireworks or an errant wind gust tat blows lit fireworks into dry brush. That's great for them.
    The cumulative total of of all these people engaging in their "rights and freedoms to blow s**t up" effects us all, however. An unwillingness to see how their actions combine with those of others to create a negative impact on us all is a blindness to the highest regard.
    I have have a neighbor with severe PTSD. I used to love fireworks -- and admittedly still do -- until we move in next to him. We live in Fremont, where we can't get away from the booms and bangs, both personal and public. Watching the stress our neighbor goes through ever year in July filled me with regret for all the times in the past that I thought it was exciting to let loose.

    I put this in the same category as shooting. I'm a nature recordist, and spend many of my weekends trapping around in the forests and meadows of our amazing state trying to record sounds without human influence. It's become increasingly more difficult, however, to make that happen. If it's not planes, it's cars. If it's not cars, it's gunfire. The single most prevalent noise impact on nature and wildlife recording is gunfire. Not just hunters, but shooters. These are the folks that spend their weekends in a National Forest or a WA-DNR Wildlife Area setting up targets against cliffside and letting loose. Not only do they cause a sound disturbance, but they leave behind piles of spent shells and cartridges, tattered remains of targets, shot up bottles and cans, mattresses and TVs (yes... TVs). They could be listening to the wind, birds, and trees, but instead they choose to deafen the world to those sounds.

    There is a belief in this country that a right to do something is an excuse to do it. It's an excess of patriotic exhilaration combined with an inexhaustible supply of self-importance, the worst kind of self-centered attitude that believes that Might Makes Right and You Can't Stop Me From Making My Big Boom.

    Please keep up the good work and strong writing, Cliff.

  20. Seriously, anyone entertaining the notion, that King County or the state of Washington is going to force a fireworks sales ban on Native American lands best read up on TRIBAL SOVIERNTY.

    Marryin Al- Thank you for your service and sacrifice, it is appreciated.

    Lastly: Don't create yet another law that is not enforced and costs tax payers even more money.

    Instead, I suggest that all of you frustrated with fireworks, host a block party, get to know your neighborhood's.

    I gotta believe, that most folks want to do the right thing and be good neighbors. Make friends. Be proactive. Not passive aggressive, with more lousy laws.

  21. Agreed - make them illegal and institute a huge fine. It'll still happen due to reservation sales, but any reduction in the weeks-long mania afflicting my neighborhood would be progress.

  22. Cliff, stick to the science of our atmosphere please. That is, unless you want this blog to degenerate to the type of vitriol that permeates the rest of the Internet.

    There are a couple things you should ponder:

    1) Any vet that puts that sign out is 9 times out of 10 just trolling for sympathy and attention. For most of our armed forces veterans, we did out job, came home and just want to be like everyone else.

    2) Outside of Portland and Seattle and associated enclaves such as Bainbridge, most of the PNW is SOLIDLY red in politics. Leave us alone with laws that decide "whats in our best interest". As in, we don't want more .gov nanny state politics deciding what we can or can't do. If people want to be stupid than they should be allowed to be stupid, as long as they own the repercussions of their actions. Thats part of being a grown up in the US of A.

    3) Banning a portion of a Holiday due to a minority taking offense is not a good precedent. Those who take offense, well they need to get over it and focus on what they find enjoyable on that particular day as opposed to toiling to take away what others enjoy. It would be like banning Christmas trees in December because Jews, Muslims and other faiths that are not in the majority feel slighted.

    That's the whole principle here. Its why our country works how it does. its not perfect and some folks do not have a consensus on everything all of the time but ultimately citizens should be allowed to responsibly live their lives without those who claim to be of an elite cadre dictating what should be done "because they know best". That kind of practice created the backlash of anti-elite sentiment that put Trump into the White House...to whatever outcome that may bring.

  23. Couldn't agree more, Cliff. The same sorts of thoughts were running through my head on the 4th and the 5th. Unfortunately, as you can see from the comments here, there would be broad disagreement with such a ban. Even if we could get laws enacted it would only punish those who previously participated in fireworks safely and responsibly. As usual the honest are punished and those with no regard for those around them will do whatever they want, since enforcement of these kinds of laws is so terrible. I'd imagine that folks would actually get more reckless and go for bigger, more dangerous fireworks to rebel and "exercise their rights".

    I wonder if we could do something instead where neighborhoods have a few specified gathering places to safely set off fireworks in a more controlled environment. Park fire trucks nearby or send fire extinguishers to the locations. The government doesn't even necessarily need to participate (though currently in Seattle this would only provide officers a convenient place from which to issue fines).

    It was heartbreaking to see what the community did to Carkeek park over the fourth. So much firework waste and other garbage, I'm just glad nothing burned - this year. It's unfortunately expecting too much of the sorts of people who illegally set off fireworks to think they'd clean up their own mess. Perhaps it would also be nice to figure out how to organize cleanup crews the morning of the 5th to help out the parks folks?

    Generally, I'm pessimistic that existing or proposed laws will do much to change behavior. The enforcement just isn't there. I'm optimistic, though, that we can start some things to lessen the impact over time. It's just a matter of figuring out what those things are!

  24. Andrew, if you take such umbrage at the sound of recreational gunfire in our National Forests, then I trust you've written your federal representatives to support the Hearing Protection Act?

    Most recreational shooters don't enjoy the concussive blast of shooting any more than you do, but federal law makes it too difficult for law-abiding gun owners to buy what amounts to a muffler to screw to the front of their gun.

  25. The Tribes are usually in front on environmental issues and get federal funds for these issues. Those of us who support these causes should expect the Tribes to be consistent on the issue of the environment and safety when it comes to fireworks.

  26. Andrew,

    I think the ideas you express in your final paragraph say a lot more about you than they do this country.

    Also, there are plenty of places in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and adjoining public lands one could go in order to record the sounds of nature sans their human component. They just require more effort to reach.

  27. Sugar and fast food do way more damage to our society than fireworks do...

  28. At least once a year I duck because I think I'm being shot at ... and it is invariably a firecracker that does it. These are already illegal in WA, though you'd never know it. I'm skeptical more laws will help with that particular problem.

  29. I have been an advocate for the safe use of fireworks for years. I have always enjoyed fireworks since I was a little kid when M-80's, Cherry Bombs and Ash Cans could be bought at any gas station or convenience type of store.
    My family, friends and all the neighbors love my firework shows. I do not have one neighbor who complains about the noise or smoke with the discharge of fireworks. I respect their quiet time and finish up all my shows before 10:00om.

    Fireworks injuries have drastically lowered as quality, inspection and testing have vastly improved over the years. Since 9/11/2001, fireworks usage is up just over 800% while injuries have decreased. The media likes to demonize the use of fireworks by showing firework accidents caused mainly by drunk, irresponsible individuals. These stats are not consistent with factual details.
    We all watch the safety videos that the CPSC outs on every year before the 4th of July by showing someone leaning their head over a motor, or the watermelon being destroyed by a firecracker or the dolls holding a sparkler to each others dress and catching on fire. These instances are just a scare tactic used by the CPSC.

    If used RESOPONSIBLY, fireworks are fun and enjoyable for everyone of all ages.
    If fireworks ever get banned the problem will be that novices will begin to make their own fireworks to use. Most of the American public does not like to be told what to do. Thus, they will make fireworks that may be dangerous to not only them but to others around them as they may not have the experience to build these.
    Injuries, very serious, will rise all because of a few wanted to ban fireworks!
    Fireworks is a multi-billion industry and has some big name players who have lobbied for the passage of fireworks laws in states and there is no way they will sit by idle while this happens.

    As for veterans, I have not met a Korean, Vietnam, Iraq, Desert Storm or Afgan war Vet that does not like fireworks! I am an honorary member of a local VFW post and have put on displays for New Years celebrations.

    As for polluting our air? Maybe we should ban all automobiles, trucks, buses and oh yeah, airplanes! I watch the trail left behind by an airplane that lingers for almost an hour after they have flown by. A little smoke from fireworks does not cause air pollution.

    Pets? My neighbor has a dog named, wait for it..................Rocket!
    He loves the colors and noise they make. Also, My cat would sit in our window and watch the fireworks go off as well.

    So, I'm not sure why you all hate fireworks with a passion as you probably forgot your memories of your childhood!

    1. I am not sure how one "responsibly" uses explosives on neighborhood streets or in public parks. Maybe there's a way to designate certain areas where people can set off fireworks, with expectations around safety and clean-up. But what's wrong with letting pros handle the shows? I don't think folks necessarily hate fireworks just because they don't want amateurs handling them in their neighborhoods and parks. As for childhood memories of fireworks? Not good. But even if they had been good, I'm a grown-up now. I know we can have fireworks without insisting on lighting the matches.

  30. I totally agree with your position on this issue. I bet this could generate substantial support through petition and ballot issue. I am very glad to see that you brought this back for a second look, and garnering additional support. THANK YOU.

  31. Banning fireworks is not fair. Its not fair to take them away from those that use them safely and responsibly. If we banned everything out there that people get hurt doing almost everyone would be stuck at home bored. We also would all be stuck home bored if we banned everything that caused pollution because we couldn't use a car to go do it.

  32. You can't talk about banning fireworks without questioning the alleged sovereignty of the tribes where the majority of the powerful fireworks are sold. Of course the tribes are not sovereign and could not exist without the surrounding infrastructure of the state of Washington and the USA. But WA progressive leadership holds the tribes sacrosanct, and so there won't be any change. Fireworks will continue to be sold.

    1. Washington state does not and can not accord or withdraw tribal sovereignty; it is a matter determined and defined by federal treaties, not local law. Washington certainly does not have a long record of observing federal law in this matter; read about the state's violations of treaty rights prior to the mid-1970s. Tribal sovereignty is subject to defined limits, eg the tribes can't make broad foreign policy decisions (and neither can Washington state). But if sovereignty were defined, as you suggest, by the ability to exist without relying on and engaging with other sovereignties, even the USA's sovereignty would be questionable. The world is full of sovereignties, big and little, all inter-dependent whether they like it or not. It is not unworkable. In order to address the fireworks problem, it isn't necessary to challenge the treaty rights of recognized tribes. The starting place should be a convening of governments--city, county, state, tribal--to consider an effective ban. Respectful engagement has gone a long way in resolving other issues, and might be effective here. I know at least two tribal leaders prepared to engage in this particular discussion.

  33. I personally have no interest wasting money on fireworks. The kids enjoyed it for a time, but had one 4th where dad (me) was trying to do the right thing by removing all the cardboard casings of spent fireworks off the street in front of our house. I moved stuff off the road onto the driveway, where left over embers caught my wife's car on fire.

    To think we've been doing these celebrations for years, an all of sudden it should be banned, seems unrealistic. Sure people get hurt/killed, but people get hurt/killed doing just about anything and more folks pay the price when they're being careless. It doen't matter what activity it is, someone will find a way to injure themselves.

    Seems 30+ years ago, more veterans might of had an issue with the noise then now, don't recall any upheavals then. I clearly have no idea what it feels like to have PSTD, but why is it a greater issue now then before.

    Also MacD's comment about motorcycles is ridiculous. Listen to cars, trucks etc going down the highway, merely tires touching the road, makes an incredible amout of noise. Helicopters, planes, trains, all make a ton of noise.

    Lets ban every thing that makes noise, hydros and blue angels included.

    1. Don't get me going. I'd love it if the Blue Angels and the hydros at least left my neighborhood. A lot of my neighbors feel the same way. And it isn't just about the noise.

  34. I have been enjoying Fireworks since i was a small child. My Dad got me into them. If perhaps we focused more on the safety aspect instead of just banning them thanks to a few bad apples that seems way more logical. Also They will never be banned on reservations, I once heard it said, "its like Christmas To the Indians" Imagine all the revenue that would come in if more places lifted banns and focused on safety. Even allowing discharge areas for fireworks like the Reservations do. Everyone on the face of this earth should have the choice to legally use fireworks.

  35. Apparently when its the same weather every day for months...potentially until October...this is what we get. The weather equivalent of a slow news day. Not that this isn't a valid discussion, but in some prior blog Cliff was a rather vocal that scientists should not dabble in politics. Politics are not science. More like the manipulation of emotion and distortion of fact. This fireworks debate is not weather or science. Its public policy and opinion.

    Anyway,that first day of steady rain is going to be akin to space aliens landing at Pioneer Square. Perhaps if we go 90 days with no rain, THAT will be a story!

  36. @Brand777 that is a pretty poor argument. That's like saying "we shouldn't ban cell-phones while driving because people would be too bored while they drive."

  37. Banning fireworks is a bad idea that I do not agree with. the best thing to do is educate the public on common safety tips and the dangers of reservation bought fireworks. People will use fireworks ban or no ban. I hope you don't think lawn mowers and gasoline should be banned also. Keep up with the weather

  38. So much for "Everybody talks about the weather..." ~ haha!

  39. Lots of false equivalency in some of the pro-fireworks posts. Fireworks aren't cars. They serve no function except to explode and make noise...oh, and litter. They cause obvious harm to people, animals, and property (even when used "responsibly", which I'd argue is impossible with something that flies in the air and/or sprays fire everywhere).

    Here's a better comparison for folks: While I might very much enjoy letting my dog into your house to chase your cat around, we can all agree that I shouldn't, right?

  40. What if personal fireworks were only allowed when both atmospheric conditions were appropriate for the dispersal of the small particulates to ensure that air quality is maintained for all health groups and when environmental conditions were such that wildfire is not an issue. Think of it as an Independence Day Burn Ban.

    We already accept Burn Bans when air quality is poor and/or when the possibility of wildfire is high because we recognize that the consequences of fires during those conditions outweigh our individual rights to have a fire. My right to enjoy a fire does not trump your child's right to breathe. Your right to enjoy a fire does not trump my right to keep my house free from fire.

    Personal fireworks are the same. My right and my neighbors' rights to set off fireworks when the air is stagnant does not trump your child's right to breathe. Your right and your neighbors' rights to set off fireworks do not trump my right to have my house not burn down.

    While injuries are tragic, they are often the consequence of the choices made by the people engaging in the behavior, (or in the case of children, by the parents' choices.) If they want to choose the behavior, they can choose the consequences. Pets can be contained or removed to quieter areas. People too, can remove themselves to more subdued locations if aggravated by the noise. (Not debating whether they should or should not have to, just saying that they can.)

    But I cannot move my house to avoid the danger of fire when the area is dry and the greenspace nearby is basically kindling. Nor can your child escape regional air quality by going to a quiet part of town to breathe better. The only solution is to take away someone's rights, either the rights to use personal fireworks or the rights of people to be secure in their property and the rights of people to life (since breathing is required for life.) I would hope that it would not be a question as to whose rights should be sacrificed.

    Therefore, when atmospheric conditions are such that regional air quality is likely to be compromised and/or that the land is at risk of wildfire, the use of personal fireworks should be banned. On Independence Days that atmospheric conditions are such that personal fireworks use would compromise regional air quality and the land is not at risk of wildfire, "safe and sane" personal fireworks should be allowed.

  41. My experience is that the less educated, less affluent and lower IQ folks LOVE exploding cheap Chinese crap, because, well they are easily entertained and think that somehow the Constitution has enshrined this god given "right."

  42. XxXxX,

    My experience is that the more educated and affluent Seattle progressive types make comments like yours that project a narrative on to the average less educated and less affluent folks and they get tired of your elitist crap and vote for a Trump. So thanks.

  43. As a former fire captain in California fireworks would always keep us busy. Between lost fingers (and sometimes a hand or eye) or thousands of acres and homes up in flames the cost of reckless freedom would reach into the millions per year. Tax payers cover the cost of these immature acts, so yes there is a societal risk sharing burden. I remember one fire started by a bottle rocket. The wind was blowing and it was damn hot out. Within minutes the wildfire had fully established and was burning in the crowns of the pines. Luckily there were air resources in the area working another fire and our strike team of engines where coming off that fire. And that a lake was nearby for water dipping operations. We hit the fire fast with ground crews and helos with containment in an hour. Thousands of taxpayers dollars all from a 30 cent bottle rocket.

    Now one could argue careless smoking or a simple match is just as dangerous. Kind of like the car vs gun argument. But the data shows from yearly arson reports that the dollar loss due to fireworks is proportionally higher then those 2 other vectors. So mitigation and education is a given.

  44. Something that people commonly miss is that even though some of the problems from the fourth of July, like underage drinking, dead birds, terrorized veterans (you know the people who fought for that precious freedom you're so crazy about), the terrified animals the environmental damage, all these things do happen on other nights yes, but the problem is that all of these harms converge at the same time. IF we banned fireworks we would solve so many problems. And frankly, I don't think that people should celebrate the fourth of July so much. At the "start of this country" we still had slaves, we still killed people over petty disagreements. And it is only one of two independence days. If you like fireworks then there are safer options, such as lightshows, a good movie, a professional fireworks show, in person or by video. Personally I love watching some fireworks, I enjoy being able to see al the colors, but not at the cost of others. According to an NYTimes article 5000 birds were killed on ONE night in 2011 because of fireworks noise pollution, because of the soke in the air, and because they are terrified.

  45. I live in Pennsylvania, and as I sit in my living room on a Saturday night, it sounds like a war zone behind me. What assholes decided that we needed more noise and potential danger in a life already stressed by relaxed values. I grew up being able to settle down in the evenings and sleeping peacefully at night. When I attended a fireworks display, it wasn't yards from my house. America continues it's decline....all for profit.


Please make sure your comments are civil. Name calling and personal attacks are not appropriate.

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